Modi Returns to Democratic India, and to Targeting Muslims; With Temple in the Bag, Power Crisis Not a Poll Issue in UP
Cow vigilantism and bulldozer justice continue, Google moves SC against NCLAT, the commons ensure rural women’s food security, Manipur tribal body rules out talks, is China trying to recruit Gurkhas?
Snapshot of the day
June 27, 2023
Narendra Modi has returned to India after his visits to the United States and Egypt and he’s back to Muslims as his favourite vote-catching theme. Addressing BJP workers in Madhya Pradesh, which goes to election in about four months, the prime minister raked up the issue of Triple Talaq – which the Supreme Court invalidated and his government criminalised four years ago – and Uniform Civil Code. “Modi said Muslims were being instigated in the name of UCC,”, the Hindustan Times reports. “If there is one law for one member in a house and another for the other, will the house be able to run? So how will the country be able to run with such a dual system?” asked Modi. He said the BJP follows the path of “santushtikaran” (satisfaction), instead of "tushtikaran", or ‘appeasement’ – which is what the party calls minority rights.
The vicious trolling of Sabrina Siddiqui, the Indian American reporter who asked Modi a question on Muslims at last week’s press conference in Washington has prompted a White House response: “We’re aware of the reports of that harassment. It’s unacceptable, and we absolutely condemn any harassment of journalists anywhere under any circumstances,” White House spokesperson on national security issues, John Kirby told reporters. “That’s just, that’s completely unacceptable, and it’s antithetical to the principles of democracy that…were on display last week during the state visit,” he added.
In Karnataka, an anonymous poster campaign titled ‘PayCM’, with a QR code superimposed on the features of former chief minister Basavaraj Bommai, may have contributed to the Congress victory in the state. Now, posters featuring ‘Accepting Mama’ Shivraj Singh Chouhan and a QR code, with the slogan ‘Get your work done PhonePe’, have appeared in Madhya Pradesh. An irate BJP blames the Congress, which ascribes it to public sentiment. Meanwhile, energised by Modi’s various visits, the newspaper cartoon flourishes.
Yesterday, 32 former leaders of the Bharat Rashtra Samithi in Telangana joined the Congress. Polls are due in the state this year. Today, BRS president and Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao hit the road to Pandharpur and the Tulja Bhavani temple in a convoy of 600 vehicles bearing 2,000 party leaders. The BRS chief has travelled five times to Maharashtra this year, in search of new party members and alliances. The party claims 13 lakh members in the state, almost halfway to the target of 30 lakh, which were to be acquired by July.
The Indian Army was forced to free 12 Meitei militants in the Imphal region after a mob of 1,200 led by women surrounded them. The incident, reported by major media outlets, took place on June 24, when the Army apprehended 12 militants of Kanglei Yawol Kanna Lup (KYKL). The group was involved in several attacks, including the ambush of a 6 Dogra unit in 2015 which killed 18. Alarmingly, security forces sources told the Hindustan Times a BJP MLA was part of the mob. But that is not the end of the matter. The Indian Army, fortified by the draconian AFSPA in most areas of India where it is fighting insurgencies, finds it necessary to put out this video, complaining about the women. It has tried to project itself as ‘humane’ but when reportage depicted it as helpless and out of control, it fell back on this appeal.
“Help Us to Help Manipur” is the tagline. To whom is this appeal of the helpless and hapless directed? Shouldn’t they be asking the Union government?
In UP, bulldozer justice continues ― the home of a rape accused has been demolished in Fatehpur. In Nashik district of Maharashtra, Afaan Abdul Majid Ansari and his assistant were beaten with iron rods and wooden staves by cow vigilantes, who had been alerted by a toll plaza employee that they were carrying meat in their car. Ansari died, and the police, who made 11 arrests, also charged the two men with animal cruelty.
Meanwhile, the Congress is upping its agitprop game:
Five months after the Hindenburg report roiled the markets, Gautam Adani has put up a spirited defence in the annual report of his flagship firm Adani Enterprises, saying that a panel of experts appointed by the Supreme Court had found no regulatory failure, and that his standards for corporate governance and reporting remain reliable.
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The schedule of the 2023 ICC ODI World Cup in India has been announced. India will meet Pakistan in Ahmedabad on October 15.
India denied a visa extension to the last Chinese reporter stationed in the country, effectively expelling him, which means it is almost certain the last Indian reporter in Beijing – PTI’s KJM Varma – will be asked to pack his bags by the Chinese side.
The Central Board of Direct Taxes has notified changes in reporting rules for trusts, applicable from October 1. To qualify for tax breaks, they must specify the nature of their activities in the reporting period ― whether charitable or religious, or both.
Google has filed an appeal in the Supreme Court against the ruling of the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal upholding a Rs 1,337 crore penalty for anti-competitive conduct in the Android ecosystem imposed by the Competition Commission of India. The company proposes to show that Android has “benefitted Indian users, developers, and OEMs, and powered India’s digital transformation”. (Cultural curiosity: in leetspeak, an argot which was popular on the internet in the pre-Google era, the numerical value of Google’s fine, 1,337, reads ‘elite’. What, no conspiracy theories yet?)
The Char Dham Yatra has been suspended in anticipation of 24 hours of bad weather in the districts of Uttarkashi, Chamoli, Pithoragarh, Rudraprayag and Bageshwar. Elsewhere in the country, too, heavy rainfall has caused traffic disruptions.
Chinese tourists in Nepal can now make payments using their mobile phones using WeChat Pay, reports the Kathmandu Post. Chinese payment solutions had been banned in Nepal in 2019.
Jairam Ramesh says that the Agnipath scheme has broken a thread two centuries old, and no Gurkhas will be joining the Indian Army in 2023. Displaced, they are seeking opportunities in private armies like the Wagner Group. In fact, they are reported to be fighting on both sides in the Ukraine conflict. “There are disturbing reports that China is seeking to recruit Gurkhas, exploiting the vacuum created by Agnipath,” Ramesh tweeted.
A paper in Nature Food says that forest produce and food gathered from the commons contributes in great measure to rural nutrition security, especially among women and tribal communities. The study was conducted by the International School of Business, South Dakota State University (USA), Humboldt University (Germany), University of Michigan (USA), Manchester University (UK), and the University of Copenhagen, in 570 households of two forested and tribal-dominated districts of Jharkhand and West Bengal.
It’s as deliciously grimy and heartless as a Cold War novel plot: Scroll reports that the death of three Khalistani activists in separate nations in a matter of weeks has set tongues wagging. Some suspect a power struggle in the movement. Others see the hand of Pakistan, which had supported the movement and in which one of the deaths occurred. Yet others see the shadow of National Security Advisor Ajit Doval.
In an astonishing parasympathetic flourish in midair, a man who works as a cook in an African country defecated, urinated and expectorated across a row of seats on a Mumbai-Delhi flight. He was arrested on landing.